Clothing Alteration Worker
Clothing alteration workers make changes and repairs to all types of garments. They use sewing machines and do hand stitching. A small number of alteration workers specialise and work on theatrical costumes.
As a Clothing Alteration Worker, you will make changes to all types of garments, such as dresses, trousers, skirts and jackets. The work is carried out from instructions given by the customer. Garments may be altered by hand or by machine and are pressed once alterations are complete.
- repairing damaged garments
- shortening or lengthening clothes
- taking in and letting out items
- replacing zips and buttons.
Various kinds of fabric are worked on including silk, cotton, linen, wool and synthetics, such as polyester. Tools used include sewing machines, needles, pins and scissors. You usually need to maintain your own machines.
Many Clothing Alteration Workers combine this type of work with tailoring or dressmaking. This type of work is often done at home, although sewing rooms are sometimes found in separate workrooms at retail premises.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Clothing Alteration Worker, you will need:
- to have nimble fingers and be able to work neatly, quickly and accurately
- a good working knowledge of sewing techniques
- patience, as the work can be detailed and require careful attention
- knowledge of sewing machines
- good people skills if you have contact with customers
As a large number of alteration workers are self-employed, business skills are also useful.
People with skin conditions and breathing problems may need to think carefully about entering this job.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £14,500 - £16,000
- With experience: £18,500 - £20,000
- Senior Clothing Alteration Workers earn £23,000
Hours of work
Clothing Alteration Workers usually work 39 hours a week, which may include shift work. There may be opportunities for part-time work and work at home.
Where could I work?
Employers are Dressmakers, fashion houses, Tailors, dry cleaners, theatres, and television and film production companies.
Opportunities for Clothing Alteration Workers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Opportunities occur for experienced Clothing Alteration Workers to work independently on a self-employed basis.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.
Entry Routes and Training
Most new applicants are adults with experience in the clothing industry who require little further training.
There are various relevant courses available for people trying to get into this career. For example:
- the certificate in making it in fashion from the National Open College Network (NOCN) at level 1
- ABC diplomas in fashion and textiles at levels 1 and 2
An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. Take a look at our information article
Any training usually covers employers' preferred work methods and is carried out on-the-job, under the supervision of an experienced member of staff.
Previous experience working as Sewing Machinists or working in tailoring would be really useful for this career.
Progression could be to supervisory positions.
You do not usually need educational qualifications to enter this work. However, most have experience of garment production. A GCSE in art and design, or design and technology (textiles technology) would be useful.
To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
For most level 1 qualifications, there aren't any entry requirements.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Most entrants have skills in some form of garment manufacturing. Many have worked as sewing machinists or in tailoring.
Practical work in the clothing manufacturing industry is valuable. An interest in fashion and design is helpful.
Some people enter this career via a Fashion and Textiles Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.
- 51% of people in occupations such as clothing alteration are self-employed.
- 28% work part-time.
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 9178000
Skills for the creative industries
Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills
Creative & Cultural Skills
Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts
Tel: 0114 2270500
Address: 1st Floor, St James's Buildings, Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6FQ
Tel: 0161 2371188
Drapers: The Fashion Business
Address: Greater London House, Hampstead Road, London NW1 7EJ
Tel: 020 3033 2600